An Essay on Othello

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Othello by William Shakespeare is a tragedy with universal themes still appropriate in today’s society. It is a typical Shakespearean tragedy where the protagonist’s hamartia brings about his eventual demise. Othello depicts the major themes of jealousy, appearance versus reality, and finally loyalty and betrayal. These themes are vividly portrayed through the major characters of Othello, Iago and Desdemona, through the use of a variety of literary and dramatic techniques.

Othello is the most famous literary work that focuses on the dangers of jealousy. The motive behind antagonist Iago’s plot is fuelled by his jealousy of Cassio. This theme of jealousy extends onto the protagonist Othello, with it being his fatal flaw which leads to his and Desdemona’s ultimate demise. In the opening scene, Iago begins manipulation of his first victim, Roderigo, who, like Iago, is also jealous of Othello. Iago reveals his jealousy through saying “One Michael Cassio, a Florentine, a fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife; that never set a squadron in the field.” Here, Iago claims that he hates Othello because he selected Cassio to become his lieutenant, instead of himself. Iago claims that he is far more experienced and well suited for the position, in that Cassio has “never set a squadron in the field.” Iago is clearly jealous, and this is one of the main motives behind his plan to destroy Cassio and finally Othello. As jealousy begins to fall onto Othello as a result of Iago’s actions, Iago pretends to warm Othello to not be a jealous man, “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.” The use of strong monster-like imagery highlights the consequences of jealousy, in that it ends up destroying the heart of the man who falls prey to it. This is also ironic because Iago is clearly the genuinely jealous character. Hence, this suggests that Iago is attempting to transfer his jealous feelings onto Othello, causing him to feel...
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